2017’s Hottest Fashion Trends

Ashley Kalagian Blunt hottest fashion trends

  1. Habanero sauce, rubbed everywhere
  2. Skirt made from rings of fire
  3. Miniature Hadron Collider vest, set to 9.9 trillion °F
  4. Actual fireplace strapped to your waist
  5. Paper mâché volcano hat
  6. Suit made of quasars (they’re very hot)
  7. Full-body skin suit of 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive
  8. Gloves that are actually Carolina Reaper peppers
  9. Dwarf star fascinator
  10. The Hope Diamond, after you stole it
  11. Flame-shooting bra
  12. Suit of toast fresh out of the toaster

 

How to be Australian according to your passport

Your passport contains the distilled essence of Australia. Study its images carefully during the interminable minutes in line at Immigration. Each image is a puzzle piece. Fit them together, and you will know what it is to be Australian.

Australian passport
Australian passport images, in order of appearance

  • Parliament, featuring the largest free-standing stainless steel structure in the southern hemisphere
  • A kookaburra who really wants you to know about travel insurance
  • A Tasmanian devil suffering lockjaw
  • Surf lifesaving chicks about to launch floaty things into the water
  • A camel caravan
  • A thorny devil
  • A depressed wombat
  • A water tank, windmill-thing and what might be a station house
  • People sitting on car bonnets observing a horserace
  • An even more depressed platypus
  • A man being cruel to a herd of cattle
  • An open-mouthed saltie
  • Cricket
  • A smarmy koala
  • A noble dingo who definitely hasn’t eaten any babies this week
  • Two scuba divers checking out coral
  • Beachgoers
  • A page translated into French, Australia’s unofficial second language
  • A pointy-nosed chipmunk?
  • A highway leading to distant hills, with trees
  • A love-struck emu
  • An RV hitched to a ute, maybe Uluru in the background?
  • A bearded dragon who’s ready to party
  • A kangaroo whose grandfather was a horse
  • Two ladies in togs holding a rope in knee-deep water staring down a big wave
  • A lone surfer
  • A patriotic eagle, the eternal symbol of Australian freedom
  • Just a regular echidna
  • A rural town hotel that definitely has a pub
  • A semi-truck (the designers must have been getting desperate at this point)
  • A sulphur-crested cockatoo who just came out of the dryer
  • Maybe a bilby?
  • Girls playing rugby in skirts because females play sport too
  • Another lizard-type thing – wait, is that a goanna?
  • Sailboats on a harbour
  • A man in an overcoat and fedora staring off towards some power lines or possibly a fence with a definite serial killer vibe
  • Also a lot of plants. Give me a break, I’m not a botanist.

 

Blind dating with books: the game

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I recently hosted Blind Dating with Books as part of Noted Festival’s LitHop, where a Lonely Reader from the audience played to find the book of his or her dreams.

Some of the books the Lonely Reader met included the fine, well-known titles listed here. Can you guess the identity of these books? They may be fiction or non-fiction, for adults or kids. Answers below. No cheating!

Book 1
Setting: New Zealand
Themes: good vs evil, heroism, climbing volcanoes, love of jewellery, friendship, long journeys, getting out of your comfort zone, The Great Outdoors
Plot notes: Supernatural big brother, communing with trees, etc

Book 2
Setting
: The Middle East, or a vaguely desert-like place
Themes: Salvation, good vs. evil, begetting, killing your child, the patriarchy
Plot notes: Probably the most famous beginning, major flooding, getting swallowed by a whale, giant vs. slingshot, murder via DIY woodworking

Book 3
Setting
: modern Europe
Themes: ancient conspiracies, bad grammar, murder, “symbology”
Plot notes: murder in a museum, cryptic clues, famous artworks, historical and scientific inaccuracies

Book 4
Setting
: Nazi Germany
Themes: Survival, friendship, how great books are, hatred/racism, death
Plot notes: hiding from Nazis, book burnings, orphanhood, getting whipped (but not in a sexy way)

Book 5
Setting: A fruit bowl?
Themes: counting, transformation
Plot notes: chocolate cake, ice-cream cone, pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, lollipop, cherry pie, sausage, cupcake, a lot of various fruits

Book 6
Setting
: Old timey England
Themes: love, romance, marriage, social inequality
Plot notes: boarding school, secret spouse, dead parents, typhus and other old-timey diseases, horse-riding accidents, a proposal from your cousin, arson

Book 7
Setting
: Northern Europe, present day
Themes: murder, justice, challenging stereotypes
Plot notes: computer hacking, open marriage, lucrative ghost-writing, Nazi relatives, amateur tattoo artistry, patricide

Book 8
Setting
: A private island
Themes: murder, mystery, survival, justice
Plot notes: cyanide poisoning, message in a bottle, confession, life imitates poetry, a marble clock shaped like a bear

Book 9
Setting
: Old timey England
Themes: love, romance, marriage, family
Plot notes: snobbery, balls, fever, never-ending marriage proposals, horse riding, the worst brother-in-law

Book 10
Setting
: Melbourne
Themes: love, romance, acceptance, reducing inefficiency
Plot notes: very specific menus, ‘affirmative’, cocktails, trip to New York, project work, bicycles, science!

Book 11
Setting
: small-town America
Themes: childhood trauma and its echoes in adulthood, ugliness lurking behind small-town quaintness, overcoming evil
Plot notes: stuttering, oversized spiders, Dracula, Hansel & Gretel, a werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster, blood oath, a random turtle

Book 12
Setting
: Modern day US
Themes: power/control, life choices
Plot notes: “I don’t do the girlfriend thing”, drunk calls, private helicopter, “written consent”/nondisclosure agreement, “hard limits”, a lot of crying

Book 13
Setting
: The universe
Themes: Science! Learning! Amusing anecdotes! Terror!
Plot notes: How did the universe start? What are supernovae? Big Bang Theory, the size, shape, weight and orbit of the Earth, theory of relativity and quantum physics, the fabric of spacetime, potential deadly meteor strike, Yellowstone supervolcano, global warming; possibly recurring ice ages

Book 14
Setting
: London
Themes: love and romance, self-improvement (?), weight loss
Plot notes: Having a crush on your boss, how confusing men are, a time-share scam, awkward dates, culinary disasters

Answers
1. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
2. The Bible – God et al.
3. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
4. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
6. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsen
8. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
9. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin
10. The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
11. It – Stephen King
12. 50 Shades of Grey – EL James
13. A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
14. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

5 life hacks you absolutely must follow or you’ll be dead by Friday

1. Taupe is your colour. That’s right, taupe.

2. Attach paperclips to a hanger, then put in your freezer to avoid thinking about your credit card debt.

3. If you’re driving in snow and spin out, pour a bucket of hot water under each tire. Seriously. Your neighbours won’t laugh at you.

4. Put a piece of white bread inside your shirtsleeve to soak up sweat.

5. Get 37 people to retweet you within exactly 29 seconds, and a unicorn will appear to grant you one wish.

The overlooked cultural achievements of spam mail

This week I received an email from someone named Cletus Woodham, with the subject  Spam: part 3. This reminded me how wonderful spam is. I mean, Cletus Woodham? 

Cletus Woodham - a spam love story by Ashley Kalagian Blunt

My curated collection of spam screenshots are a testament to spam mail’s magnificence, a fact sadly overlooked in modern society. I argue that spam is one of our greatest cultural achievements. Consider:

1. Spam is comedy. No one else sends you emails with subject lines like

Spam screenshot: comedy from Ashley Kalagian Blunt

2. Spam has your best interests at heart. Without it, how would you know about common attraction killing words to women?
comedy Ashley Kalagian Blunt
(Turns out it’s ‘honk’. Women hate that.)

3. Spam is an art form. Consider this brilliant poem:
comedy Ashley Kalagian Blunt

4. Spam alerts you to new products you never knew about but absolutely need. Spam screenshot: comedy from Ashley Kalagian Blunt

5. Spam cares. It wants to make sure you ‘do not die in pain and silence’ when your problems can ‘be handle with full force of our oracle and ancestors’.

comedy Ashley Kalagian Blunt
There are a lot more reasons why spam is great, and trust me, I will probably tell you about them sooner than you could possibly hope.

 

Woks cited

Creuset, Le Wok w/ Lid, Satin Black: 32cm
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-36-25-pm

Scanpan Impact Wok, Silver: 32cm
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-40-43-pm
Scanpan IQ Wok: 32cm
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-41-49-pm

Solidteknics (AUS-ION) Formed Iron Sauteuse/Wok: 28cm
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-42-48-pm

Tefal, Character GV5 Wokpan, Red: 28cm
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-37-49-pm

*This post courtesy of a thesis typo I didn’t notice for weeks.

A way better bucket list than yours

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I’m not a competitive person, but I know my ‘bucket list’ is way more awesome than yours. That’s because most people’s lists are mostly places they want to travel or things they want to buy. Unless you want to travel to Earth’s core or purchase the corpse of Elvis, your bucket list is just a fancied-up shopping list.

My bucket list, in contrast, includes only true life experiences that money can’t buy (unless you shop in some really messed up places, I guess). That doesn’t mean I just listed anything that might seem really awesome. Sure, I’d love to build a flux capacitor and travel back to 1985. But I failed grade 10 physics, so that’s not going to happen.*

I’ve kept my list within the boundaries of reality. Likewise, I haven’t listed items just because they sound impressive. I could theoretically train hard and develop mountaineering skills and one day summit Mt Everest. But why? It’s cold up there. My list features only items I genuinely want to experience.

Selections from Ashley’s bucket list

  • Solve a murder
  • Jump from a moving vehicle
    This can happen while I’m solving the murder or be its own separate thing, whatever works.
  • Wrestle a bear
    Only in the wild, and only with a bear that attacks me first. I’m not going to pick fights with bears for no reason.
  • Receive an honourary doctorate
    This post alone qualifies me.
  • Escape a serial killer
    This relies on several external factors, but I have read a lot of thriller novels in preparation and am convinced I could have negotiated my way out of the hole before Clarice Starling arrived.
  • Become president of the Mars colony
    I’m not keen to live on Mars, but the way things are going, I assume we’ll have to abandon this planet within my lifetime. I’m not keen to go into politics either, but obviously the new colony could do with my fresh thinking. I’m prepared to make this sacrifice for the betterment of our Martian society.

____
*The final exam included the question “Sound cannot travel through a ___________”. Apparently “sound-proof wall” was wrong. This is why I will never understand physics.

7 tips to stave off divorce

wedding

Don’t go to bed angry
Instead, stay awake fighting for days, ultra-marathon style. A mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for Longest Marital Showdown is a sure way to reignite the flame.

Spice up your love life
Cardamom. Paprika. Basil. Turmeric. These are all things you should not put on your genitals, unless you are aroused by emergency medical fees.

Listen to each other
Sure, you’ve been hearing this person drone on forever about the refrigerator’s mould situation and the way Helen in accounts payable cracks her knuckles during staff meetings and that one ingrown toenail. But tuning out means you’ve given up on your spouse’s ability to surprise you. Make the effort to really listen: it may turn out the refrigerator is also leaking freon, or Helen in accounts payable has been replaced by a man whose nose hair touches his upper lip, or the doctor said that toenail has caused an infection, leading to life-threatening septicaemia. By paying close attention, you will learn intimate details that could distress and haunt you for the rest of your life

Have a regular date night
Why argue at home when you can take that shit public?

Communicate
With so many avenues of communication available, there’s no excuse for poor communication with your spouse. Don’t limit yourselves to Facebook and Twitter: get creative with Snapchat, Pinterest and Vine. By sharing every waking minute, you’ll not only know exactly what’s going on with each other, you’ll also create an archived testament to an incredible marriage spent mostly staring at your phones.

Avoid seeing each other naked
Seeing your spouse naked too often can dampen any excitement this once provided. Except for your semi-annual mutually unsatisfying horizontal romp, work together to hide yourselves and maintain the mystery of exactly how much your youth has deteriorated. Stables sell horse blinders.

Agree to disagree
And make a really big deal of it.

Completely acceptable reasons I won’t leave the house today

It’s too hot/cold/sunny/windy/rainy/temperate.

I’ve run out of deodorant and my natural musk radius is 3 feet.

The benefits of fluorescent light are understudied.

Today’s the day I usually dig out my foot corns.

People will be able to see by my body language that I’ve been unemployed 231.5 consecutive days.

My hair’s doing that thing.

You know how many instant coffees I can make for $5.50? 27.

If I take my pyjamas off, I’ll just have to put them on again.

I’m perfectly happy with a soya sauce-zucchini sandwich.

Isn’t this the season when magpies attack?

You don’t actually need toilet paper. Newspaper works fine.

I might run into the woman who caught me barking at her dog last week.

I’ve got some really important stuff to do.